Israeli Politicians Trying to Delegitimize the Supreme Court, Says Chief Justice

Dorit Beinisch tells Public Law conference that an incitement campaign against Israel's justice system has been 'gaining momentum' for years.

Israel's Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on Thursday condemned the recent "delegitimization campaign" carried out against the Supreme Court, saying Israeli politicians are responsible.

Speaking at a conference of the The Israeli Association of Public Law at the Dead Sea, Beinisch warned against the incitement directed toward Israel's Supreme Court.

Beinisch Bagatz 17.10.11
Dudu Vaknin

"Over the past five years I warned against the trend to harm the Supreme Court, to diminish its role, to limit its power and to prevent it from carrying out its important role, and in this way to undermine its ability to protect the democratic values of this country," she said.

“The writing was on the wall. The warnings were heard, but no one got up,” she told the conference.

Referring to the accusation that judges are out of touch with Israeli society, Beinisch said,“The judges are not out of touch. We see ourselves as part of society.”

“Supreme Court judges did not grow up in noble estates. They worked, and put energy into their professional achievements. Why incite against them?”

“For a few years now there has been a campaign that is gaining momentum from year to year, which aims to weaken the justice system, with the Supreme Court at its head. This is a campaign of deligitimization headed by a number of politicians, members of Knesset and even government ministers, who take advantage of their immunity and send the wider public false and misleading information that has degenerated to incitement directed against the court, against its judges and against its rulings,” the Supreme Court president said.

“There is clearly incitement against the court and its judges,” she added.

Beinisch also spoke then recent legal initiatives going through the Knesset aimed at modeling Israel’s justice system on that of the U.S., saying that the bills only relate to the vetting of judges, and not at any further aspects of the U.S. legal system.

Since the Knesset opened for its winter session, a number of controversial legal initiatives have passed before it which aim to limit the Supreme Court and increase political influence on it. These include the “Grunis Law,” that passed a first reading earlier this month, and has been approved for a second and third reading by the Knesste legislative committee.

With this bill, there would be no need for the Supreme Court president to spend at least three years in the role. The initiative is considered to pave the way for the appointment of judge Asher Grunis, seen as a right-wing favorite, as Supreme Court president.

Other legal initiatives include a bill introducing Knesset vetting for Supreme Court judges, a bill to change the make-up of the committee for the appointment of Supreme Court judges, and a final bill that was up for debate, and has now been delayed, to limit High Court petitions.